Sunday, October 7, 2012

Being Selfish

"My life is not my own."

I was once part of an online group of scrapbookers, most of whom were moms, with a few of us having reached grandma status. This was our mantra as we juggled jobs, home life, kids' schedules, babysitting, and still tried to squeeze in a bit of time for our hobby.

Most moms will understand the sentiment. Many people in general will understand the sentiment. We have jobs. We have meetings. We have other activities. We have church - some of us on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights AND Wednesday nights. We have parents to take care of...or kids...or grandkids...or neighbors. We have volunteer work. We have stuff to do around the house - laundry, cooking, cleaning, yardwork.

Me personally, I love to help other people. It's part of my nature. It's why I studied to be a therapist, and it's why I loved working with families in the Children's Welfare System. It's why I don't mind when Kim calls at 8:00 p.m. and needs me to run pick up medicine for Ethan because the bottle she had spilled. Or why I automatically assume we'll be keeping him for a night or two if she's sick. It's why I'll spend the day running around helping someone find the parts to fix their vehicle when the battery has died.

So, in many areas of my life, if someone has a need, I'll drop whatever I have planned and go help them.

But I've decided that this one thing is mine. This whole running / eating / losing weight thing...this is for me. Thankfully, those who are helping me on this journey are okay with that.

Because this is for me, the walking is done at my pace. 

I know Jim could walk faster, simply because he has a longer stride. And I know Sandi could whip my butt, because she's just like the Little Engine That Could - she starts going and doesn't slow down, doesn't get winded, doesn't stop. But this is for me, so I ask them to go at my pace or go without me, but I'm not going to race to keep up with them.

This was especially evident yesterday when Jim & I went out to walk. He thought he was doing what  would be most helpful by walking slightly ahead, giving me a "target" to shoot for and keep up with. And there have been days when that has been wonderful and I've responded well to the challenge. But I was out on a still-gimpy ankle, and it was my fifth day out in a row, and I was toying with the idea of trying for 6 miles (well, 6.2  - it was a 10K walk) and I just didn't have the oomph to try to set any speed records. So maybe two minutes into the walk, I stopped dead in the middle of the trail.

In all honesty, what was running through my head was, "I want you with me, not me looking at your back for the next 90 minutes." Then when I thought about it even more, I realized that my self-talk was saying, "See? You can't keep up with him." And then I decided to get selfish. It wasn't about me keeping up with him. It was about him being out with me. So I asked him, for that day, to just stay with me.

Because this is for me, I choose the distance. 

Some days I want to push myself and see how far I can go (when I have the time to do it). Some days I'm short on time, or I'm just not feeling it for some reason, and I decide to go a shorter distance. Whoever is with me...that has to be okay with them, because it's what I need on that given day.

Because this is for me, I will sometimes choose to go walking alone. 

There are days that I want the peace and solitude. Maybe I want the flexibility to challenge myself - in whatever form that takes - whenever the mood strikes. Or maybe I'm in a pensive mood and want to let my thoughts wander. 

I sometimes worry that Jim or Sandi will have their feelings hurt that I don't want to be with them. But it isn't that at all. It's just that I want to be alone. (There's a difference.) :) And since this is for me, I do it the way I need to do the time of day I need to do it...with (or without) who I need to do it with (or without). 

Because this is for me,  meals are planned according to what I need to eat. 

I haven't made pasta at home in nearly three months. (Except for the time I tried whole wheat spaghetti - I wasn't a fan.) Boxed cereal is kept to a minimum - and only Jim eats it. We have fewer sweets in the house (although I do keep ice cream handy because that's Jim's favorite snack to have in the evenings). We don't eat nearly as much ground beef as we used to. The pantry is still pretty bare from the purge a couple months ago. Jim has to put up with me experimenting with different herbs and seasonings on fish and chicken. We have more yogurt and fewer Pop-Tarts. I have made a concession and when I fix myself a baked sweet potato, he gets a baked white potato, but in general, we eat far fewer potato dishes than what we used to. Our standard "grab to go" meal is the chicken pecan salad at Wendy's or something from Subway, rather than a big juicy burger and hot salty fries. But this is for me, so I ask him to accommodate that. (And, bless him, he does.) I ask Kim to make the same accommodations if she and Ethan come over for supper, and she does. 

(Ethan...he doesn't make accommodations. He has his three main things that he eats - pizza, hot dogs and shrimp - and we accommodate that.) :)

Even friends are sweet enough to make efforts to have Jenni-friendly food on hand. Last weekend we visited overnight with our friends Jan & Steve. I was thrilled and touched that they had made an effort to have plenty of fresh fruit around for me to snack on; the cornbread muffins we had for dinner were made with wheat flour (and something else healthy...I can't remember at the moment); and the apple muffins we had for Sunday breakfast were made with the Splenda brown sugar blend and applesauce instead of butter. (Thank you, Steve!)

So yes, this one thing, this is for me. And I'm giving myself permission to be selfish about it. I am asking others to accommodate what works best for me at any given point. 

To the people who have talked to me about how they wish they could do this, one thing I would say is, it has to be for you. You need to surround yourself with supportive people who will accommodate that and help supply what you need. If you want to have a more healthy diet, then the people around you need to be supportive of that. If it means different menus at home, so be it. If it means avoiding certain favorite restaurants, okay. If it means no sweets in the house because they are too much of a temptation, then the family has to find their sugary snacks someplace else.

If you're going to exercise, the people who say they want to exercise with you need to be flexible to your schedule. Or maybe you need them to take over some household chore - like starting dinner - so you have time to get out and walk for an hour after work. Or they need to be okay with the noise of you doing exercises in the living room in the evening while watching your favorite TV shows.

It has to be for you.

And ultimately, making it for you now means it's for them later when you are healthier and happier and more energetic and live longer.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed - the final is true. It's not selfish to take care of oneself. Unfortunately, it's difficult to find those who support. Instead, it can be hollow words of support with nothing to back it up - time, effort, help.